It’s one day at a time for the New York Giants, who head into training camp with the weight of expectations to build on last year’s run to the playoffs. It is an entirely different scenario than last year when question marks surrounded the Giants.
Fresh off a free-agency bonanza last offseason that saw the Giants spend $200 million, there’s a lot less uncertainty around this year’s squad. They made the playoffs last year and twice beat the Dallas Cowboys, the team that won the division.
A strong defensive unit returns and the offense added some potential difference makers at wide receiver and tight end.
All of which has this Giants team looking and feeling a bit different compared to last year, uncertain at the time just how and if this thing would come together.
“I think building off of the success we had last year, first time going to the playoffs for myself personally and a lot of guys on this team. There’s a lot of optimism. There’s a lot of excitement," guard Justin Pugh said. "We’ve added some really good guys to the team, so there’s definitely a lot of excitement. I remember driving over here this morning just like a kid on Christmas. I mean we got a lot of things to look forward to this year."
That playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Game last year certainly is something the Giants think they can build on heading into this season.
The core of last year’s team on both sides of the ball returns for New York.
“You learn from it. I remember just sitting back and looking up at the fans once that game was over and looking at the score and thinking that’s not us. That’s not this team,” Pugh said. “That score didn’t reflect how that game went. So, I’m excited to get back to that point. I’m excited to go and play those teams, play in the big games and get back to the playoffs, and get back to where we need to be as an organization, which is playing for a fifth championship.”
Pugh wasn’t alone in his optimism. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison spoke about not wanting to be “sub par” as a team this year and how the building blocks were in place for the Giants.
Even the young players like wide receiver Sterling Shepard, a standout last year as a rookie, senses the momentum shift.
“I see no reason for us not to be a good team,” Shepard said. “It just all comes back down to doing what we do at practice and coming to work every day with an attitude to win.”